Molecular mechanisms of gene shutoff

in Gießen

A large fraction of the 25 000 genes in the mammalian genome is repressed in many cell types and tissues. Within a cellular population most of the repressed genes stay inactive, thus the epigenetic status is transferred to the daughter cells. The maintenance of the repressed state is a fundamental requirement for embryogenesis, cell differentiation and tissue function. Genome-wide epigenetic DNA and chromatin modification play essential roles in regulating gene expression.

An altered pattern of epigenetic modifications is involved in many common human diseases, including cancer. Tumor-suppressor genes are often turned off, whereas proto-oncogenes are activated. Therefore, carcinogenesis can result from hypermethylation and from hypomethylation of genomic regions. To date, for many human genetic diseases, the underlying genetic defect has been determined. Nevertheless, the open and important question remains unanswered, how gene repression is mediated and maintained. The molecular mechanisms involved include chromatin remodeling, histone modification and DNA methylation. The molecular function of these in gene repression, gene activation, gene insulation and subnuclear arrangement are studied in detail in our group.

Advances in understanding epigenetic mechanisms have been and will be accompanied by new therapeutic options and targets for treatment.


No puplications for this group yet.


Prof. Dr. Rainer Renkawitz
Genetisches Institut
Heinrich-Buff-Ring 58-62
35392 Gießen

Phone: 0641 9935460
Fax: 0641 9935469